Elevate your look with beautiful nails. Manicures make even the plainest outfits have a pop of personality that’s authentically you.
Ready to learn about the best types of manicures to try? Let’s dive in!
1. Basic manicure – best for nail care
Basic manicures are essential for proper nail care. A basic manicure is a simple process of removing dead skin on your hands, trimming and shaping your nails, and cutting back overgrown cuticles.
What does a basic manicure consist of?
A basic manicure consists of exfoliating hand scrubs, a nail trim, filing to shape the nails, and buffing to leave them smooth.
How long does a basic manicure take?
Basic manicures typically take between 30 to 60 minutes. Normal nail polish takes a few hours to completely dry.
How long does a basic manicure last?
Nail polish from a basic manicure usually lasts a couple of days to one week before chipping. But, your hands will stay soft for a couple of weeks.
Basic manicure cost
A basic manicure costs anywhere between $20 to $55 depending on where you live and how luxurious the spa amenities are.
How to do a basic manicure at home
It’s easy to give yourself a basic manicure at home. Pick up a manicure set at your local beauty shop or online. Use an exfoliating hand lotion and the accessories from your manicure kit to trim, shape, and buff your nails.
2. Gel manicure – best overall
A gel manicure is the best type of manicure to try for long-lasting nail colors and designs. Gel nail polish has a fast setting time because UV light assists the curing process.
What is a gel manicure?
A gel manicure starts the same as a basic manicure with hand pampering. Instead of regular nail polish, gel polish is applied to the nail that is then set with a UV hand light.
A gel manicure includes:
- A clear base layer
- Layers of colored gel polish
- A clear top coat
Do gel manicures ruin your nails?
Gel manicures can ruin your nails over time. To remove gel nail polish, you must soak your fingers in acetone which can dry out your skin and leave your nails brittle and soft.
How long does a gel manicure last?
Gel manicures last two to four weeks. This is the main benefit of gel manicures; you’re more likely to see nail growth near your cuticles rather than the paint chipping off your nail tips.
Are gel nails better than acrylic?
It’s all about your preference: which is better, acrylic or gel?
Gel nails have a glossy finish that looks more natural than the end product of an acrylic manicure. However, acrylic nails are stronger than gel nails and last even longer.
Gel nails dry nearly instantly with UV light, whereas acrylic nails cure slower. However, UV light can damage your skin with prolonged use.
Gel vs dip powder
What about gel nails vs powder nails? In my opinion gel nails are much easier to remove and cause less damage to the nail bed because you can soak them off with acetone.
Dip powder nails require a nail drill to remove completely and over time this can thin out your nail bed leading to breakage and weak nails.
For more information, check out our article on Gel Vs Dip Powder Nails.
Are gel nails good for short nails?
Yes, gel nails are great for short nails because gel nail polish has a natural-looking finish and lasts a long time.
3. Dip powder manicure – most durable
Dip powder is the best long-lasting manicure you need to try for your next trip to the nail salon. Dip powder manicures last for up to a month and do not require UV lamp exposure to dry.
You can even learn to do dip powder nails at home. For step-by-step instructions check out our article on How to Do Dip Nails at Home.
What is a dip powder manicure?
A dip powder manicure uses a powdered formula instead of your typical liquid polish. Your manicurist will first apply a nail primer and a clear polish. While the clear polish is still wet, a powder is applied to it either by dipping your nail into the powder or using a brush.
Is dip powder good for your nails?
Dip powder is lighter on your nails than gel, Shellac, and acrylic manicures. This manicure type also doesn’t require UV light to cure, so dip powder nails are better for your hands.
How often should you get dip nails done?
Dip powder manicures last for up to a month, so you should redo the dip powder technique on your nails whenever you’re ready to change up the color.
Do dip powder nails add length?
On their own, dip powder manicures don’t add length. However, dip powder can be applied to acrylic nail extensions for long nails that are lighter than a full acrylic set.
Is dip or acrylic better for your nails?
Dip powder is better for your nails than acrylic polish because it is lighter and requires less sanding, soaking, and damage in the removal process. For more information, read our article on Dip vs Acrylic.
Can you remove dip nails at home?
Yes, you can remove dip powder at home. For a step-by-step guide, read our article on How to Remove Dip Nails safely and without damaging your natural nails.
Dip powder manicure cost
A dip powder manicure typically costs between $30 to $50. Depending on if you are applying dip over acrylic tips or getting elaborate nail art, a dip manicure can take as long as 1.5 hours to complete.
4. Acrylic manicure – best for long nails
Acrylic manicures are the best choice for long luscious nails, even if long nails don’t come naturally to you. This long-lasting manicure technique is the #1 most popular choice for adding length to nails. It also provides the greatest amount of surface area to your nail, thanks to the extra length, for intricate nail art designs.
What is an acrylic manicure?
An acrylic manicure uses a liquid monomer and a powder polymer to make a thick paste that your manicurist will spread over the top of your nail.
Acrylic nail polish (different from regular acrylic paint) is used to add color to your nail extensions.
How long does an acrylic manicure last?
Acrylic manicures last between six to eight weeks. But the best news is that you can get your acrylic nails filled in once your nails have grown out a bit. The acrylic paste can be applied to just the base of your nail to refill the set rather than start from scratch.
Are acrylic manicures bad for your nails?
Acrylic manicures can be harsh on your nails, especially after frequently refilling or redoing acrylic sets. The repeated sanding down of the old nails eventually weakens your natural nail bed.
Are acrylic or gel nails better?
For length and strength acrylics are hands down the best choice but if you’re looking for a long-lasting manicure that won’t damage your natural nails as much over time then a gel manicure is best.
See our answer to this question under the FAQs for #2 Gel Manicure.
How to remove acrylic nails
To remove acrylic nails, soak your fingernails in acetone for several minutes. This softens the acrylic paste so that your nail technician can scrape it away from your natural nail.
For a more in-depth guide check out our other post, How to Take Off Acrylic Nails.
Full set of acrylic nails cost
The price for a full set of acrylic nails can range drastically from $50 into the hundreds. If you want nail art, additional nail accessories, or extra long nails, the cost will increase.
5. French manicure – best classic look
French manicures, also called French tip nails, are ideal for any age to make your hands look clean and stylish without being overdone. This simple look is a classic because it emulates the natural nail while perfecting it.
What is a French manicure?
A French manicure is a classic nail style with a natural-looking base color and a pure white tip to emulate the white edge of the fingernail.
How long will a French manicure last?
If your French manicure uses regular nail polish, your nail polish will only last a few days before chipping.
Is French manicure outdated?
French manicures will never go out of style, especially when you can recreate the classic look with different colored tips. French manicures mimic the natural look of a nail, making them look clean and maintained without being the statement piece of your look.
Can I get a French manicure on short nails?
Yes, French manicures work great for short nails because most short nails don’t have a white nail tip since that is the part you cut off.
French manicure cost
A classic French manicure using traditional nail lacquer will set you back around $35. If you opt for gel or acrylic polish, the cost is likely to increase.
6. Reverse French manicure – best original look
A reverse French manicure is the best type of manicure to try for an original take on a classic look. The reverse French manicure is essentially a French manicure that uses different colors.
What is a reverse French manicure?
A reverse French manicure reverses the conventional color palette of a French manicure. Instead of a natural base and white tip, a reverse French manicure uses colors for the base and a different color for the tip. Reverse French manicures usually also paint the lunula.
How long does a reverse French manicure last?
Just like a regular French manicure, a reverse French manicure done with regular polish will chip after a few days. With acrylic or gel polish, a reverse French manicure will last for weeks.
Reverse French manicure cost
A reverse French manicure costs around $35; however, the cost will increase if you opt for gel or acrylic polish.
How to do a reverse French color street manicure
Simply stick on one layer, then layer the second color strip slightly above the previous color to get the reverse French manicure look.
7. Polygel manicure – best for DIY length
A Polygel manicure is one of the best types of manicures to try if you can’t decide between gel or acrylic nails. Polygel is a hybrid of the two, combining the best parts of each.
Are polygel nails the same as gel nails?
No, Polygels are not the same as gel nails. The Polygel formula is essentially a mix of gel and acrylic polish that is lighter to wear, not as strong-smelling, and does not need soaking to remove.
Is polygel good for your nails?
Polygel is better for your nails than acrylic or gel polishes because this type of manicure is removed by buffing the nail polish off rather than soaking your hands in acetone for several minutes.
How long do polygel nails usually last?
Polygel nails are just as strong as gel or acrylic nails and last between three to four weeks.
Does polygel break easily?
No, Polygel takes the strength from acrylic nails and the flexibility of gel for a super strong yet slightly flexible nail polish that is less likely to break.
Is polygel easy to remove?
Yes, Polygel is easy to remove by buffing off the layers of polish. Some soaking may be necessary, but they are significantly easier to remove than acrylic sets.
How much does a polygel kit cost?
Polygel kits range between $15 to $50 on Amazon.
Polygel kits for beginners are affordable ways to test out your techniques. To learn how to do your own polygel nails at home check out our article for our favorite Polygel Nail Kits for beginners.
8. Press-on manicure – best quick DIY
A press-on manicure is one of the best types of manicures to try if you need nice nails in a pinch.
How do press-on nails work?
Press-on nails work like tape. There is a sticky underside that adheres to your nails, while the top of the sticker is decorated with nail art or simple colors.
Do press-on nails damage your nails?
Press-on nails are a lot better for your nail health than acrylic or gel polishes. Press-on nails don’t require your nailbeds to be sanded down to apply and don’t need UV light to cure.
How long do press-on nails last?
Press-on nails last about two weeks before beginning to peel or fall off.
Can I shower with press-on nails?
Yes, you can shower with press-on nails. The sticky underside of press-on nails is strong and adheres to your nailbed for about two weeks.
How to remove press-on nails without ruining them
Removing press-on nails without ruining them is very simple. Apply cuticle oil to areas where you can access the nailbed, then soak in warm soapy water.
Press-on nails cost
Press-on nails cost between $3 to $20 but go up in price depending on nail art, decorations, and length.
9. Plexigel manicure – best protective
A Plexigel manicure is the best type of manicure for protecting your nails.
What are plexigel nails?
Plexigel is a brand of nail polish from CND™ Beauty Supply that is designed to strengthen your nails and protect them from damage.
Plexigel nail polish is typically clear or light shades of natural tones.
Is plexigel good for nails?
Yes, Plexigel is good for your nail health. Plexigel is a nail enhancement polish that strengthens, lengthens, and protects your fingernails.
How long does plexigel last?
Plexigel manicures last up to three weeks.
How do you apply plexigel?
Apply Plexigel to your nails as you would regular nail polish. The formula is easily applied with the brush in the bottle.
How much does a plexigel manicure cost?
A Plexigel manicure costs between $30 to $50 dollars. Keep in mind that not all salons have Plexigel in stock.
10. Mirror manicure – best for glitz and glam
Mirror manicures are the best types of manicures to try for nails that get attention.
What is a mirror manicure?
A mirror manicure is a type of dip powder manicure that has a shiny, mirror-like finish.
How long do mirror nails last?
Mirror nails last several weeks to up to one month when used with acrylic or gel top coats.
How do you get mirror-effect nails?
Get mirror-effect nails easily by applying the powder to a black base. Use an eyeshadow brush to apply the powder and buff it into the black nail to reveal a mirrored nail surface.
Can you do chrome nails with regular nail polish?
Yes, you can do chrome nails with regular nail polish. Apply a base of black nail polish and then add on the mirror powder. Use a regular clear top coat to seal in the powder and let air dry.
Mirror manicure cost
A mirror manicure will cost the same as a dip powder manicure, between $30 to $50. The salon may add a $5 charge for the mirror powder.
11. Vinylux manicure – best hassle-free
Vinylux is the best type of manicure for hassle-free nails that look amazing. Vinylux is a two-step nail process by CND™ Beauty Supply that removes the need for nail buffing or a base coat.
What is a Vinylux manicure?
Vinylux is a product by CND™ Beauty Supply that covers your nails without the need for a base coat. The first layer is the color and the second layer is the top coat.
Is Vinylux good for your nails?
Vinylux is good for your nails because you do not need to remove any layers of your nail before applying. Either filing or buffing dry and brittle nails can do more damage than good.
How long does a Vinylux manicure last?
A Vinylux manicure lasts between one to two weeks before it starts chipping.
How do you remove Vinylux?
Easily remove Vinylux by lightly soaking your nails in an acetone-based nail polish remover. It won’t take long before you can use a cuticle scraper to gently remove the Vinylux from your fingernails.
What’s the difference between Shellac and Vinylux?
The main difference is that Vinylux needs two layers to have a finished manicure, while Shellac needs a primer coat.
Cost of a Vinylux manicure
A Vinylux manicure costs between $30 to $50 dollars. Keep in mind that not all salons have Vinylux in stock.
12. Hot stone manicure – best therapeutic
A hot stone manicure is one of the best types of manicures for tension release and super-soft hands.
What is a hot stone manicure?
A hot stone manicure is a hot stone massage specifically for your hands and arms. Stones are heated and placed on your hands, wrists, and arms as the manicurist massages out tension with hydrating and soothing oils and creams.
How long do you leave hot stones on?
A hot stone manicure adds 15 to 20 minutes to a basic manicure. Hot stones should be left on for 15 minutes to release muscle tension fully.
What is the difference between a spa manicure and a regular manicure?
The difference between a regular manicure and a spa manicure is that spa manicures add additional time to the manicure.
A spa manicure lets you enjoy the massage for longer and incorporates more of your wrists and arms in the massage.
How much does a hot stone manicure cost?
Hot stone manicures range between $75 to $150 depending on if the manicure includes acrylic or gel instead of regular nail polish.
How do you do a hot stone pedicure?
A hot stone pedicure uses hot stones to rub out the tension in the base of the foot, the ankle, and the calves. Like a hot stone manicure, heat stones and place them on the body.
13. Brazilian manicure – best for removing cuticles
A Brazilian manicure is like a Brazilian wax for your cuticles. Brazilian manicures are the best type of manicure to try for removing cuticles.
What is a Brazilian manicure?
A Brazilian manicure starts with a paraffin wax treatment to soften your skin. Then, your cuticles are completely removed, so you have a near-seamless edge between your finger and nailbed.
Cost of a Brazilian manicure
A Brazilian manicure costs between $30 to $75, depending on the fanciness of your salon.
What is a Brazilian pedicure?
A Brazilian pedicure is the same as a Brazilian manicure, just on the feet. Skin is first soaked in paraffin to soften it, then the cuticles on your toenails are removed.
14. Shellac manicure – best for hard nails
Shellac manicures are the best type of manicure for ultra-hard nails that last a long time.
What is a Shellac manicure?
Like Plexigel, Shellac is a brand from CND™ Beauty Supply. Shellac is similar to gel nail polish because it is long-lasting and cures under UV light.
What is the difference between gel nails and Shellac?
The difference between gel nails and Shellac is that Shellac has a formula that is a polish while the gel formula is a paste. Shellac is a specific brand, so color options are more limited.
Do Shellac nails ruin your nails?
Prolonged use of Shellac can ruin your nails because the removal process can be harsh on your hands and nails.
How long do Shellac manicures last?
Shellac manicures last between two weeks and one month. The hard polish needs to be soaked and scraped to remove.
Which is better, Shellac or dip?
Dip manicures last up to five weeks, while Shellac will likely start peeling, chipping, or breaking after a few weeks. If you prefer to change your nail polish color more regularly than once every five weeks, go for Shellac.
How much does a Shellac manicure cost?
Shellac manicures cost between $40 to $60. If you previously have Shellac on your nails, a $5 to $10 removal fee is likely.
15. Paraffin manicure – best soothing
A paraffin manicure is the best type of manicure to nourish your hands and nails.
What is a paraffin manicure?
With a paraffin manicure, you immerse your hands in warm paraffin wax and let it soak for a few minutes. After removing your hands from the wax, your skin is soft and hydrated and ready for basic acrylic, gel, or any other types of manicures.
Is paraffin good for nails?
Yes, paraffin adds hydrating oils to your nails to nourish brittle and dry nails.
How much does a paraffin manicure cost?
A paraffin wax treatment adds $10 to $30 to your manicure price.
Does paraffin wax remove nail polish?
No, paraffin wax is hydrating and adds softening oils to your skin without stripping away the nails or any nail polish you may have on.
Check out more FAQs about the best types of manicures to try during your next salon visit.
What type of manicure is best for your nails?
The best type of manicure for your nails is a basic manicure with normal nail polish. While gel, acrylic, and others have their benefits, a basic manicure nourishes your hands and massages out tension without exposing your hands to UV lights.
What type of manicure lasts the longest?
The longest-lasting manicure type is an acrylic manicure. Acrylics stay on for up to one month and can be refilled rather than entirely redone.
What is the least damaging nail treatment?
A basic manicure is the least damaging nail treatment. Basic manicures do not require soaking your nails in acetone, sanding off excess polish, or exposing your skin to UV light.
Kim is an expert, with over 7 years in the nail art and makeup industry. She is an avid DIY nail artist and now contributing writer at BeautyStack.